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1 Virginia Energy Sense Do-It-Yourself Guide Virginia Energy Sense Do-It-Yourself Guide Energy Saving Tips From A program of the State Corporation Commission VirginiaEnergySense.org

2 1 Introduction 2 Getting Started: Home Energy Audit 4 Conduct Your Own Energy Audit 6 Home Energy Checklist 8 How to: Top 10 Efficiency Upgrades 10 How to: Seal Cracks and Air Leaks 12 How to: Use a Programmable Thermostat 14 How to: Make Appliances More Energy Efficient 2 VirginiaEnergySense.org

3 Virginia Energy Sense is the Commonwealth s statewide energy education initiative providing information and tools to help residents learn about energy and take steps to save energy at home, at work, and at school. Under the guidance of the State Corporation Commission, it was created by the General Assembly in support of the state s goal to reduce Virginia s electric energy consumption by 10%. Our mission is to help all Virginians understand their energy use and how to save energy easily and cost effectively. The purpose of this guide is to provide a few do-ityourself (DIY) projects that will improve the comfort of your home and reduce your utility bills. Read through the guide, assess your home, and take action! You ll be amazed how a little elbow grease goes a long way towards lowering your energy bill and increasing your efficiency. Share the guide with your friends, neighbors, and co-workers to encourage them to learn more about easy improvements to help save energy while saving money. Check out our website VirginiaEnergySense.org where you can: Try our free Home Energy Test to measure your home s efficiency Take the 10% Challenge to reduce your own energy use Find financial incentives available for energy-saving purchases and upgrades Read about Virginia s energy use, policy, and plans Stay in touch and contact us if you need help. Good luck and remember to Value Your Power! CHECK OUT MY SITE VirginiaEnergySense.org Do-It-Yourself Guide 1

4 2 VirginiaEnergySense.org Getting Started: Home Energy Audit

5 A home energy audit (also called an energy assessment) is a good step to help you figure out how much energy your home uses and identify opportunities to improve efficiency. A professional energy audit costs about $400 but can detect much greater savings that can reduce your energy bill for years to come. You can also conduct a simple energy audit on your own (page 4). During a professional assessment, the auditor will analyze your energy bills and ask you about your comfort in your home, including questions about drafty areas. The auditor will examine the outside of the home to determine its size and features. Then, the auditor will go room by room taking notes, conducting tests, and identifying potential energy savings. The auditor will also test your heating and cooling system to see if it is running correctly. A typical assessment includes the following: Blower door tests to determine a home s air tightness Infrared camera inspections which reveal hard-to-detect areas of air infiltration and missing insulation Furnace efficiency tests to measure your gas or electricity use Surface thermometers to measure room temperatures To prepare for a professional audit, you can: Make a list of any existing problems such as condensation or drafty rooms Gather copies or a summary of your home s yearly energy bills Know your home s average thermostat setting for summer and winter Once you ve pinpointed trouble spots, read on for projects to help reduce your energy use and save money all year long. NO ONE HAS EVER ENJOYED AN AUDIT... UNTIL NOW!! Do-It-Yourself Guide 3

6 Conduct Your Own Energy Audit 4 VirginiaEnergySense.org

7 If you re ready to take a close look at your home s energy use, you and your family should follow these steps to check for potential waste and inefficiencies. Getting Started Step 1: Collect these materials Caulk Weather Stripping Insulation Plastic sheeting for windows Energy efficient light bulbs Duct sealant (mastic) Outlet gaskets Power strips Air filter Painter s tape Step 2: Prepare your home Turn off your furnace. Shut all windows and doors. Turn on all exhaust fans that blow air outside, such as bathroom fans or stove vents. Step 3: Walk through your home Check air leaks by lighting an incense stick and passing it around edges of common leak sites. Wherever the smoke is sucked out of or blown into the room, there s a draft. Once you find air leaks, use the tape to mark their locations. Check inside and outside for the following issues or concerns and fix them right away: Insulation levels in exterior walls, basements, attics, crawlspaces. Holes and cracks in any walls, foundation, windows, doors, plumbing, wiring. Make sure your fireplace flue is tightly closed. Check lighting patterns. Are you leaving lights on during the day? Can you switch to more efficient light bulbs? READY. SET. SAVE! Safety Tip: Be sure to watch for back drafting. You do not want combustion appliances and exhaust fans competing for air. To avoid this issue make sure to vent clothes dryers to the outside, use a properly sized range hood if you use a gas range and consider installing a carbon monoxide alarm to help you monitor indoor air pollution. Do-It-Yourself Guide 5

8 Home Energy Checklist X Location Problem Solution Exterior Walls, Basements, Attics, and Crawlspaces Insufficient insulation Add insulation Electrical Outlets Cracks, air leaking Caulk Install gasket cover Switch Plates Cracks, air leaking Caulk Overhead Lighting and Lamps Wiring Windows/Frames Lights turned on when not needed Air leaks, cracks or holes in walls around wiring Leaks in window frames Drafty or old windows Cracks near or in window frames Change your lighting habits Switch to energy efficient light bulbs Caulk Caulk Plastic sheeting Storm windows Baseboards Cracks Caulk Door Frames/Weather Stripping Doors Fireplace Drafts and air leaks Cracks or holes Drafts and air leaks Weather stripping Caulk Caulk Insulation Weather stripping Make sure flue is tightly closed Caulk or weather strip leaks 6 VirginiaEnergySense.org

9 X Location Problem Solution Attic A/C Units Air Registers/Ducts Pipes Plumbing Foundation Siding Cracks and leaks, especially at the attic entrance if near an air conditioned/heated room Cracks and air leaks, particularly around window-mounted units Air filters Dirty registers decreasing air flow Air leaks or disconnected ducts Leaks, cracks or holes surrounding plumbing Cracks or holes Cracks and air leaks Caulk Weather stripping Caulk Insulation Replace with a new filter Clean the air registers Replace duct work Reattach connections with mastic sealant or foil-back tape Caulk Foam Cement patches Insulation Caulk Insulation New paint Mail Slots Cracks and air leaks Caulk Refrigerator Check to see if you can slip a piece of paper between the gasket and the door frame Replace gaskets and seals Do-It-Yourself Guide 7

10 How to: Top 10 Efficiency Upgrades I LOVE TOP 10 LISTS... AND SAVING ENERGY. 8 VirginiaEnergySense.org

11 There are plenty of simple low or no-cost steps that can make a dent in your energy use. Here are 10 things you can do to reduce your utility bills: 1 Unplug Appliances: Unplugging appliances and turning off lights are some of the easiest steps you can take to become more energy efficient. Unplug small appliances when they are not in use and on bright, sunny days when natural light is sufficient, you can keep the lights off to reduce lighting expenses by 10-40%. 2 Install Gaskets Behind Outlets & Switches: Install gaskets to seal off the wall cavity behind outlets and switch receptacles to prevent air from escaping through the small holes. You can also use gaskets to seal off recessed lighting. 3 Clear Your Vents: Make sure the areas in front of vents are clear of furniture, rugs and other obstructions. Blocked vents can result in as much as a 25% increase in energy being used to distribute air. 4 Use Power Strips: Put laptop AC adapters, cell phone chargers and other electronic devices on power strips. Electronics continue to draw power, even when they re not in use. Look for green power plugs which allow you to leave some electronics like a DVR turned on. 7 Use Energy Efficient Bulbs: Replace regular light bulbs with CFLs or LEDs. Switching one CFL can save $40 or more over the lifetime of the bulb and LED lights use at least 75% less energy than incandescent lighting. 8 Use Window Shades Wisely: In the summer, keep shades and curtains closed during the day to prevent the sun from heating up your home. During the cooler months, leave them open to take advantage of natural heat from the sun. 9 Consider Fans: Ceiling fans move the air around spaces which can make rooms more comfortable. Fans usually allow for a 3 to 5 higher temperature setting, and each degree saves about 3% on cooling costs. During winter, reverse your motor and operate the ceiling fan at low speed in the clockwise direction. This quick fix causes a gentle updraft, forcing warm air down. 10 Use Energy Efficient Appliances: Purchase ENERGY STAR qualified products as they will have the highest energy efficiency ratings. 5 Check Your Water Heater Settings: Lowering your water heater s maximum temperature to 120 can save 7-11% of water heating costs. You can also wrap your water heater with an insulation blanket to save even more money. 6 Replace Filters: Have your cooling system serviced once a year and change or clean filters once per month. Do-It-Yourself Guide 9

12 How to: Seal Cracks and Air Leaks SAVING MONEY ON YOUR POWER BILL IS A SNAP. 10 VirginiaEnergySense.org

13 Did you know that up to 50% of your electricity bill is due to energy lost through small holes and cracks found around your home? You can easily and significantly reduce wasted energy by sealing cracks and holes in your home. Depending on the location of the air leaks in your home, some materials may offer better solutions. Insulation is made from a variety of materials: Batts and rolls, or blanket insulation, can be hand-cut and trimmed to easily fit spaces. Loose-fill (small particles of fiber, foam or other materials) or foam-in-place (liquid foam) insulation is well suited for places where it s difficult to install other types of insulation. Rigid foam panels of insulation can be used to insulate almost any part of your home. Installation To ensure your safety and proper installation, be sure to research which insulation options are best for your home and consider consulting a professional to learn more about the right R-value for your home. (Hint: Virginia is in climate zone 4.) Use spray foam insulation for filling larger gaps (1/4 inch to 3 inches). Laying batts and rolls is an easy DIY job. For areas that are harder to reach, you can rent a blower to spread loose-fill insulation. If insulation already exists between the rafters, place the second layer over and perpendicular to the first (the second layer of roll insulation should not have a backing or vapor retarder membrane.) When laying down additional insulation, work from the perimeter toward the attic opening and be sure to create a barrier around any light fixtures or soffit vents to avoid a fire or ventilation hazard. Caulk There are several different types of caulk available, so be sure to read the packaging carefully to find the right one. Caulk is best for sealing gaps or cracks that are 1/4 inch or less. Be sure to start with a clean dry surface. When filling larger gaps, move slowly to let the caulk adequately fill the space. Give your project a clean, finished look by using a wet finger to smooth out any excess caulk. Weather Stripping Some weather stripping materials may be a better option than others. Take into account if the location of the leak is something that will be moved often, like a door or window. If so, consider using flexible options like foam tape or door sweeps. Lock your windows to make them tighter and more draft resistant. Measure the perimeter of doors and windows in your home to determine how much material you will need. Add up to 10% to your total measurement to account for waste. Some products may not require tools for installation, making it even easier for you to fix problem areas! Do-It-Yourself Guide 11

14 Safety Tip: If your home requires a more extensive installation or you re concerned about risks involved with installing electrical equipment, consider contacting an HVAC professional. How to: Use a Programmable Thermostat 12 VirginiaEnergySense.org

15 A programmable thermostat regulates temperatures in your home and accounts for variables including time of day, seasons, and your schedule. Typically, thermostat models come in a variety of schedule functions. Homeowners with schedules that change daily can opt for models with separate settings for each day of the week, based on whether you re home or away. For more consistent schedules, five-day models offer the option to keep the same settings throughout the week while switching to different settings for weekends. Depending on your preferences and home needs, programmable thermostats can range in price from $20 to a few hundred dollars. Some models have other handy options you may want to consider: Digital, backlit displays Touchpad screen programming Voice, mobile phone and/or Wi-Fi programming Hold/Vacation features Indicators that tell you when it s time to change air filters Indicators that signal malfunctioning of heating/cooling systems Adaptive recovery features that sense the amount of time it will take to reach the next set-point temperature How to Install and Program Your Thermostat Before installing, shut down your electricity and read the instructions that accompany the thermostat. Select a location on an interior wall in your home, away from heat or air sources that could impact temperature readings. As you develop a schedule for your thermostat, take into consideration when you re asleep or away from home. Winter Weekdays 6am 9am: Thermostat is set at: 68 F 9am 5pm: Thermostat is set at: 55 F 5pm 10pm: Thermostat is set at: 68 F 10pm 6am: Thermostat is set at: 60 F Summer Weekdays 6am 9am: Thermostat is set at: 78 F 9am 5pm: Thermostat is set at: 85 F 5pm 10pm: Thermostat is set at: 78 F 10pm 6am: Thermostat is set at: 82 F Do-It-Yourself Guide 13

16 How to: Make Appliances More Energy Efficient IT S TIME TO KNOCK A CHUNK OF CHANGE OFF THAT POWER BILL. 14 VirginiaEnergySense.org

17 To ensure you get the most out of your appliances, here are some quick tips for making them run efficiently. Computers Activate power management settings. Your computer should have power management tools that allow you to control how your computer consumes energy. Close applications not in use. Programs running in the background force your machine to multitask; this prevents the sleep mode feature from working. Plan to be away from your screen for a while? Turn the monitor off and nix the screen saver. If you re in the market for a new computer, consider ENERGY STAR qualified models. Clothes Dryers Put your dryer in a warm space to reduce warming time. Clean the lint filter after every load. Dry in full loads, but don t overload. Use the auto-dry setting. Reduce or eliminate dryer use by air or line drying items. Washing Machines Wash in cold only. Unless you re dealing with oily stains, washing in cold water will do a good job of cleaning. Don t use too much detergent. Overuse will require longer rinse time. Refrigerators & Freezers Make sure the door seals are tight. If you can slip a piece of paper between the door frame and the gasket, you ve got a leak. Set your fridge between 35 F and 38 F and your freezer to 3 F. Cover foods stored in the refrigerator. Moisture from uncovered food makes the compressor work harder. Keep your refrigerator and freezer full of food to reduce the need to cool empty spaces. Clean the coils on the back of your fridge where dust builds up to help it run more efficiently. Dishwashers Run full loads only. Choose the air dry vs. heat-dry setting. Ovens Keep pre-heating to a minimum or avoid all together. Avoid checking your food by opening the door. Allow your oven to multi-task bake several items at once and stagger the items to make sure air can flow through the oven. Use glass and ceramic pans they allow you to reduce the heat by 25 F while cooking just as well. Do-It-Yourself Guide 15

18 For More Information If you re interested in additional resources, information, and next steps to save energy in your home, visit the State Corporation Commission s Virginia Energy Sense website at VirginiaEnergySense.org. You can learn about: The 10% Challenge to help Virginia reach its goal to reduce electric energy consumption levels by 10%. Your energy bill and how you use energy at home, work, and school. Rebates and tax incentives available to you all in one place. Assessing your home energy use and seeing how you can make improvements and much more! To learn more, facebook.com/ VirginiaEnergySense youtube.com/ VAEnergySense instagram.com/ VAEnergySense Visit VirginiaEnergySense.org or text VASAVES to 52886* and learn more energy-saving tips from Jack. State Corporation Commission *Message and data rates may apply. 16 VirginiaEnergySense.org

19 Notes Take the 10% challenge

20 READ THIS BOOKLET NOW AND SPEND LESS ON YOUR POWER BILL. THANK ME LATER. A program of the State Corporation Commission VirginiaEnergySense.org Virginia Energy Sense is the statewide energy education and outreach program created to help Virginians understand their energy use and support the state s goal to reduce electricity consumption by 10%.

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